You take your leather handbag with you everywhere for convenience or to add a personal touch to your outfit. Some leather items end up with tell-tale signs of your busy day… starting with everyday wear-and-tear, and all manner of stains from ink to wine, food and other little accidents that are forever catching you unawares.
So how should you clean leather handbags? You need to take a few precautions with leather because it is a living material that changes over time. Let’s put the best practices for cleaning and caring for leather handbags under the lens.
Cleaning suede and nubuck handbags
The method used to clean a leather item depends on the type of hide – natural leather calls for different treatment from split leather.
Suede is the inner surface of the hide and is better at withstanding exposure to light. It differs from nubuck which is taken from the top side of the leather and is a more noble material that has been lightly sanded to achieve its velvety finish. Nubuck is softer and more breathable.
These soft, velvety materials do not absorb stains in the same way and call for special attention when cleaning.
Talc and Fuller’s earth are valuable weapons that will help absorb grease stains. Simply sprinkle these natural stain removers generously over the damaged areas on suede bags and leave overnight. The following day just brush gently to remove the loose powder and revive your bag. You can find special suede rubbers on the market that are quite effective stain removers.
Full-grain leather and corrected grain leather – cleaning advice
Natural leather, also known as full-grain leather, is particularly soft but is not the same as corrected leather which undergoes treatment to alter the hide texture, making it more or less pronounced. Nonetheless, the same cleaning advice applies to caring for either type of bag:
– baby moisturizing lotion will remove any soiling from the leather,
– a blend of soft soap with a little tepid water will remove any traces of dirt. Simply use a damp cotton wool pad and wipe with the grain to avoid damaging the leather,
– to get rid of a grease stain, circular movements with a soft cloth will do the trick,
– for more stubborn stains you will need to use professional leather-specific renovating creams,
– lastly, you can give a badly worn bag a new lease of life with clay stone.
If in doubt about a mark left by a pen that looks as though you won’t be able to get it out, ask for professional advice as soon as you can.
Daily care of your leather handbag
We recommend the use of purpose-made products. Failing that, ask for advice from a cobbler or dry cleaner rather than using homemade cleaning methods. Nourishing leather creams are best, but make sure the one you use is right for the particular type of leather because a lotion for cleaning smooth leather won’t have the same effect as a cream for nubuck.
Something you should always bear in mind is that water is your leather bag’s No. 1 enemy. That’s why we advise waterproofing your bag to avoid the leather absorbing water which will result in shapelessness and becoming dull.
Lastly, if you have a stash of leather handbags, you shouldn’t neglect the ones that you are not using for the time being. Here are a few useful tips that are easy to put into practice: avoid dust gathering by keeping them in their dust bag; if you want them to keep their lustre, store them away from the sunlight; help them keep their original shape by stuffing them with a pillowcase. All these tips will lengthen the life of your favourite bags and sometimes surprise you when you rediscover them.